Introduction/Week 1: Cancer, Microbes, and Proteins

Mar 11, 2021

Greetings to all! My name is Sean, and welcome to my Senior Project blog! 

For the past decade of my life, I’ve encountered the word cancer at least once a week whether that be in a Netflix documentary, a YouTube video, television advertisement, or local conversation. However, I assume that for many of us, cancer is simply a word that forebodes death. When you hear the phrases let’s fight cancer today or breast cancer awareness month, how many of us really understand cancer from a medical and biological standpoint? Okay … okay, perhaps I’m downplaying it a little. Let’s say there are those of you who understand that cancer is basically the uncontrollable division of cells. For such individuals, would you ever believe me if I said that the fight towards eliminating cancer involves microbes? Especially during a pandemic, I assume many of us view microbes with an aura of disgust. Indeed, microbes can be pathogenic, but for my Senior Project, I will be researching how microbes can aid the fight against cancer. Specifically, I will explore how tumor suppressor proteins (proteins that halt cell division) can be mass produced using E. coli bacteria to eventually be harvested for medicinal use.

This week, I have already begun my internship with Dr. Xiaoping Yang at Protein One LLC. While this week consisted of a mere introduction to the lab and overall facilities, I will be isolating small plasmid DNA from bacteria through a procedure called Plasmid Mini-Prep next week in the lab. At home, I am currently researching the p53 tumor suppressor protein and the role it plays in cancer development. In the coming weeks, I hope to produce the p53 protein using E. coli in the lab. In the meantime, complementing my research question, I will also specifically be studying biological proteins in-depth through an online course offered by Rice University, exploring topics like protein structure, function, characterization, and purification. I want to understand proteins thoroughly in order to uncover the significant role certain proteins play in the onset development of cancer. 

4 Replies to “Introduction/Week 1: Cancer, Microbes, and Proteins”

  1. Jiaming Z. says:

    Hi Sean, that is a great angle to look at cancer–from microbes. Keep that nice writing style going and good luck on your further researches!

  2. Dora X. says:

    Sean, wow! Your internship seems so fascinating, very hands-on in the lab. During these trying times, I think your focus on microbes is especially important in increasing awareness about the benefits of microbes and the many significant roles they play in vaccine development and protein manipulation. I look forward to seeing what else you do in the lab next week!

  3. Peter L. says:

    I really enjoy the exigence of your topic Sean! Looking forward to your products on the significance of microbes in the coming weeks, especially with the advanced lab experiments you will be doing!

  4. Leo L. says:

    Hi Sean, I really enjoy your post! Your project looks really promising and fun! Can’t wait to see your explorations in the protein structure.

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